Here are some health issues to consider before you shop for flooring, especially if you have kids.
Vinyl floors bearing the flooring industry’s FloorScore certification emit relatively low levels of volatile organic compounds. (All the flooring models we recommend in our Ratings have this certification.) VOCs are linked to respiratory illnesses and can cause headaches and dizziness.
Despite the versatility and durability of vinyl, some groups, including the nonprofit Center for Health, Environment & Justice, advise against buying any vinyl flooring, particularly for homes with small children, citing vinyl’s lead and phthalate risks. (We do not evaluate the lead or phthalate content of the flooring products we test.)
Lead exposure can have adverse health effects on a child’s cognitive function, academic performance, and endocrine systems, even at blood levels lower than the government’s current allowable threshold (10 mcg/dL). And in January 2012, an advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the elimination of all lead exposure from the environment is the best course of action.
Phthalates are a family of compounds that can be used to make plastics flexible and harder to break. But many are also endocrine disruptors that can interfere with the network of hormone glands that orchestrate growth and development. In 2008 the CPSC banned three types of phthalates (DEHP, DEP, and BBP) in children’s bedding, toys, and care articles and, in addition, banned three other phthalates (DINP, DIDP, DnOP) in teethers, toys, and care articles that can be put into a baby’s mouth. (The EU banned these same phthlates back in 2005.) Some believe that the group most likely to be affected by hormone disruptors are fetuses, infants, and children. The University of Michigan Formative Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center warns against installing any vinyl flooring in a home.